EDITORIAL: Growing strength

Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell’s campaign promise to help create stronger neighborhoods among his south Tupelo constituents and revive the South Gloster Street commercial district moved toward reality last week when 70 people from the Audubon neighborhood met at Lawndale Presbyterian Church.
In addition, Newell has the commitment of a South Gloster businessman to help revive the South Gloster Area Association, which conducted a highly visible campaign in 2005 – “South Gloster Is Alive.”
Gloster Street for decades was the largest concentration of new and used-car dealerships in Northeast Mississippi, but some of those businesses, either with long-time or new owners, have moved to North Gloster and the Barnes Crossing commercial area.
Audubon, whose homeowners’ association spearheaded a once-popular Christmas-season illuminated drive, gave the neighborhood high visibility for several years. Its mostly upper-middle-class residences and a few condominiums now are a decades-old mainstay of residential development west of Lawndale Drive.
As Newell said, “After a neighborhood reaches 20-30 years old, you start to see turnover and decline as people leave for the next new subdivision or development. But we’ve only got so much space, and we need to take care of the neighborhoods we already have.”
Homeowners’ associations help enforce covenants and standards linked to the properties.
Neighborhood associations, Tupelo Community Development Director Zell Long said, usually become focused on specific issues with which they need the city’s or a council member’s assistance. They also become structures around which neighbors rally to create strong morale and accomplish goals like visible symbols identifying a neighborhood’s boundaries. Organization efforts for Audubon’s residents continue Nov. 12 (Thursday) at Lawndale Presbyterian.
Long said the city recognizes officially organized neighborhoods when a slate of officers has been elected and a site for regular meetings has been secured. City Hall, through Long’s work, the police department, and other city offices, provides strategic support. Long said Audubon, once organized, will be Tupelo’s 15th official neighborhood.
We strongly support Newell’s effort to revitalize the South Gloster commercial area. Many strong, long-term businesses remain, and among the landmark employers is North Mississippi Medical Center. There’s no reason South Gloster cannot remain a primary business area.
A strengthened support organization should find eager, willing and diverse potential members.

NEMS Daily Journal